Jacobson's building in downtown Saginaw changes hands, may see new life

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SAGINAW (WJRT) (5/25/2018) - There is hope that the former Jacobson's building in downtown Saginaw will soon have new life.

The Jacobson's department store closed 17 years ago and for the most part the building has sat vacant. But a development company that has a track record for turning distressed properties around has bought it.

"We are absolutely thrilled," said Castle Museum President Jonathan Webb.

The Jacobson's building sits at the corner of Federal and Jefferson avenues in the heart of Saginaw. For years, people came to shop for clothes and other necessities.

Tom Trombley, a historian at the Castle Museum, remembers it well.

"Purchasing ties, shirts and anything else I needed," he said. "It was a great place to shop and of course a great place to go for Godiva chocolate."

Since it closed, the building has seen little activity.

"It has been a real void in Saginaw," Trombley said.

A church bought the building at one point, but had to sell before doing much with it. Since then, it's basically become an eyesore.

"You only have to just take a walk around the building a couple of times to see the potential dangers that exist here when it's not cared for for that period of time," Webb said.

But change could finally be on the way as the Shaheen family development company has purchased the building.

The company has been behind many successful renovation and new development projects in the Saginaw area, including the Horizons Conference Center, the Temple Theatre and the new Riverview Brownstone On Hamilton condominiums.

"Everything they have done for this community has had a positive impact and we know they are going to do that with this building as well," Webb said.

An adjacent parking ramp is owned by the city and a consultant is looking at options for that, including demolition or renovation.

The Jacobson's building has 150,000 square feet of space. Webb said he's not sure how it will be used.

"Just looking at the size of the building, I would think there are a lot of possibilities," he said.

Pete Shaheen said the development company has no immediate plans for the building at this time. He also was sure about a timeline for redeveloping the building.